Centrum is thrilled to learn that Don and Cindy Roy, who will be on faculty for 2018 Fiddle Tunes, have been awarded a 2018 National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA National Heritage Fellowships, awarded annually by the National Endowment for the Arts, highlight the breadth and excellence of the artistic traditions found in communities all across the United States. The 2018 recipients will receive a $25,000 award and be honored in Washington, DC at an awards ceremony on September 26, 2018 and at a free concert on September 28, 2018. The concert will be streamed live at arts.gov.
“Clearly, Don is the dean of Franco American fiddlers, and with Cindy, his partner in life and music for nearly 40 years, there could be no one more deserving of this honor. American treasures, these. – Peter McCracken, Program Manager – Fiddle Tunes.”
Partners in life and music for nearly 40 years, Don and Cindy Roy are leading exponents of Franco-American traditional music in Maine. Both are descendants of French families that emigrated from Canada—Don’s grandparents from Quebec, Cindy’s from Prince Edward Island. Don’s virtuoso fiddling and Cindy’s steady, rhythmic piano accompaniment, plus her top-notch step-dancing, have livened up many a house party and entertained audiences across the country.
Don grew up in a large French family in Rockland, and he’s been fiddling since he was 15, when his uncle gave him his first instrument. “I just shoved it under my chin and started sawing,” he said. He learned as a teenager at house parties, where fiddles and guitars were passed around and songs exchanged deep into the night. He quickly became better than the older and more experienced people he was playing with, including the uncle who taught him, Lucien Mathieu of Westbrook. Since that time he’s played at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress, and performed on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.” And now he’s learned to make his own fiddles.
Cindy is well known for her step dancing piano accompaniment, which is among the best in New England. Augmented by her rhythmic feet, she adds life and enthusiasm to the music.